Willie Mossop is a shoe maker of a boot shop which is owned by Hobson. Hobson doesn’t think much of Willie and he doesn’t mind because he says, “I am not ambitious that I know of”. Willie’s character develops throughout the play from being a very poor unconfident man, to a rich and very confident man who is still humble and genuinely nice.
As we enter the opening scene of the play we read that Hobson is nowhere to be seen indicating that he doesn’t have anything to do with the running of his shop. His business is only successful because of Maggie who sells the boots very efficiently. We see evidence of that when she forces Albert to buy a pair of shoes when he comes to see Alice. When Hobson does finally enter the shop he gets very angry because he thinks that his daughters don’t have the right attitude towards him saying they are ‘uppish’ and don’t act like proper women. This attitude of Hobson’s changes immediately when Mrs. Hepworth enters his shop because she is a rich person and spends a lot on shoes.
She demands to see the maker of her boots and Willie is brought up to Mrs. Hepworth. She praises Willie to his face and says that if he ever leaves Hobson’s he should go tell her so she can get her boots made by him. Hobson says, “What does she want to praise a workman to his face for?” We see that Hobson doesn’t care much for, nor does he really appreciate, Willie and he doesn’t realize how important Willie is to his business which he will regret later on.
Hobson tells his daughters that he is going to choose husbands for them because they aren’t smart enough to do so by themselves. When he says that he excludes Maggie saying that she is already past marrying age which upsets Maggie, she decides that she should get a husband herself and get out of her life of misery. Maggie recognizes that Willie is her only way to get a life out of her present life and says to him, “My brain and your hands ‘ull make a working partnership”. She asks him to marry her so that they can leave Hobson’s and start their own shop.
Maggie tells Willie to kiss her to seal their bond but Willie is too shy and runs into the cellar. At this point Maggie’s sisters enter and they say that “you’re mistaken if you think I’ll own Willie Mossop for my brother-in-law.” They say that he is too low class to join the family and that ‘father’ wouldn’t be happy about this. When Hobson enters the shop again and hears the news of Maggie and Willie he says that the only way to stop this marriage is too “beat the love” out of Willie. When Hobson strikes Willie, Willie is angered and takes Maggie’s hand. When Willie is hit again, Willie kisses Maggie and walks out of the shop with her.
We see that Willie doesn’t have much say in his marriage decision with Maggie but he would rather marry her than the girl he was tokened to because he was scared of her mother. This tells us that Willie isn’t a very confident man but we also know that he is learning to be more confident when he leaves the shop with Maggie because Hobson hit him.
When Willie and Maggie move out, Hobson’s business begins to fail drastically. Alice and Vickey run the business and they make a mess of it because they don’t have Maggie’s business intellect. When Maggie comes to the shop to invite her sisters to her wedding she tells them they have to accept Willie and kiss him to show it. After much protest they do kiss him and accept him as part of the ‘family’. They all go to their wedding and Maggie takes a brass ring for their marriage. Maggie still doesn’t trust Willie enough that’s why she doesn’t give him the ring. Before they enter the church Maggie asks Willie if he actually loves her because she has respect for the church. Will says, “You’re growing on me lass. I’ll toe the line with you”. This tells us that Willie now loves Maggie even though the marriage was originally a business agreement.
Afterwards they all go to Willie and Maggie’s new house for the celebration. Maggie has been training Willie too read and write and he gives a wonderful speech to all of them which shocks them. Willie’s confidence has grown and you can tell that as he speaks directly to Maggie and he stops addressing Vicky and Alice as ‘Miss’. However, he still doesn’t feel comfortable at being left alone with Maggie on their wedding night because he doesn’t know what will happen. Hobson enters as Willie’s guests are about to leave and they have to hide and stay inside Willie’s house. This is a big moment in Willie’s character change as he talks directly to his old master as the new master of his own house. “Aye, let him come in”
Hobson has problems he needs to settle and wants to talk to Maggie about it. She says that Willie is her husband and if Hobson wants to talk he has to talk to both of them. This shows us that Maggie is making Willie an equal to Hobson by making Hobson have to talk to Willie and Maggie together.
At the end of the play, a year later, when Maggie and Willie hear of Hobson’s breakdown, they go to see how he is. Alice and Vickey are also there to see their father but are more interested in his ‘will’. Willie talks directly and with a strong voice to Alice and Vickey stating he is an equal or even of higher status then them. “I’ll do the arranging, Alice. If we come here, we come here on my terms”. Willie also brings Hobson down to earth about his business and offers him a partnership. Hobson tries to offer Willie his old job back but Willie says “we’ve paid off Mrs. Hepworth’s loan and made a bit of brass on top of that.” Willie has taken all of the high class customers from Hobson. Hobson is forced to agree as he doesn’t have any other choice except ‘Hobson’s Choice’ referring to the title as he has only one choice which he has to take. Willie even stands up to Maggie when they are deciding on the name of the shop, “Mossop or Hobson or its Oldfield Road for us, Maggie”. Maggie gives in knowing that Willie has grown since their marriage and is now an equal to Maggie.
Willie has transformed since he started to work. He has grown in confidence yet still has held his humility as he agreed to have a partnership with Hobson and not leave him in his hour of need. Willie criticizes himself for being to harsh on Hobson but he is told he has done the right thing. Maggie and Willie are equal now and both take part equally in making decisions and Maggie now loves him more than she did when she originally saw him as a business opportunity. Willie also starts loving Maggie and they have combined marriage and business very well into a working partnership. I think Willie has grown well throughout the play. He stood up for himself at times when he needed to most and never grew arrogant and held his honesty, integrity and genuine warmth and caring.